This sequel to Gods of War by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, depicts Japan in the aftermath of World War II, focusing on the war criminal trials of Japan's top civil and military leaders while continuing the saga of the McGlynn and Toda families. It's less the fiction that rivets the attention here than the rich lode of historical detail, much of it used to support the view that America shares the blame for the war and that the Japanese military hierarchy received less than fair treatment in being judged by exclusively Western standards. The principal fictional characters are Professor McGlynn, special adviser to the new shogun, MacArthur (and eloquent mouthpiece for Toland's thoughts on the Japanese), and his four children: Floss, married to a Toda; Will, a lawyer for the prosecution at the trials; Mark, an ex-Marine; and Maggie, a journalist. Of the court dramas, all well done, the most stirring are those involving the trial and conviction of General Tojo, head of Japan's wartime government, who comes across as honorable and dignified, if feudal-minded. (October 16)
The reviewer of Gods of War ( LJ 4/1/85) commented that the book was ``often more like history than fiction.'' The same is true of the sequel, which offers an almost exhaustive examination of events during the Tokyo war crimes trials. Members of the Toda and McGlynn familes are the main characters in this novel, which begins very shortly after the end of the previous novel in 1945 and describes experiences of both Japanese and Americans in postwar Japan until early 1950. The interaction of attorney's, clients, friends, and relatives serves to illustrate the cultural differences. Especially noteworthy are the explanations for the causes of Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective. The true focus is on the trials themselves. Lawyers will find the legal arguments provocative, but the emotional response the first book prompted is lacking here. Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L.